Commentary Archive

That’s A Wrap: Tom Crean

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Welcome to “That’s A Wrap,” our recap of the 2014-2015 Indiana Hoosiers. We conclude the series today with a look at Tom Crean.

What a wild one for Tom Crean in year seven.

The season had yet to begin, and Crean faced crisis and calls for his head in the wake of the Devin Davis incident. But his team did not crumble in the wake of the accident, it bonded together and thrived. Slipups in the non-conference season happened — the home loss to Eastern Washington was particularly concerning and a sign of things to come on the defensive end — but Indiana pushed the pace, scored the ball at a strong clip and rebounded well despite its size issues. Wins against SMU, Pittsburgh and Butler, along with a close overtime loss to Georgetown gave hope.

So did a 5-1 start to the Big Ten season. The Hoosiers weren’t supposed to be this good. One prominent college hoops voice placed Crean in the coach of the year discussion. Another separated fact from fiction in the Crean saga.

But as the conference season rolled along, the mob re-emerged with their pitchforks. On paper, the back half of the Big Ten schedule was supposed to be easier. But the Hoosiers limped to the finish line — finishing 4-8 in the their final 12. Crean did a fantastic job creating a top 10 offense out of the pieces he had. He put in the work over the summer and the results were strong — something I wrote about last week. But that’s just one side of the ball. And Indiana’s defense was curiously — and historically — bad. (Alex went in depth on this last week.)

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That’s A Wrap: Team defense

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Welcome to “That’s A Wrap,” our recap of the 2014-2015 Indiana Hoosiers. Today: Indiana’s defense.

Final stats (34 games): 71.7 ppg, 45.3 FG %, 50.3 eFG %, 50.9 2PFG%, 15.9 TO%, 32.8% FTR.

If turnovers defined Indiana’s disappointing 17-15 season in 2013-2014, it was the defense that prevented the Hoosiers from truly realizing their potential in 2014-2015.

Despite an elite offense – one that ranked in the top ten nationally in adjusted efficiency – Indiana never figured things out defensively and the result was a roller coaster season in terms of results. When the Hoosiers had things rolling offensively, it didn’t matter how poorly the defense was playing. A prime example of this was Indiana’s home win over Maryland. Indiana allowed the Terrapins to score close to 1.10 points per possession and the Hoosiers still won that game by 19 points.

But expecting those types of performances with any consistency is unrealistic and when the Hoosiers struggled to make shots, the defense simply couldn’t be counted on.

Going down the list, some of the offensive outputs by IU opponents were hard to fathom.

Eastern Washington came into Assembly Hall and scored 53 points in the second half in a stunning loss. EWU’s Venky Jois would say postgame that IU’s defense “wasn’t doing anything.” Ohio State, which averaged 1.08 points per possession in Big Ten play, hung 1.32 points per trip on the Hoosiers in Columbus, a season-best in league play for the Buckeyes. And Northwestern, a pedestrian Big Ten offense, hung 72 points on IU in 58 possessions up in Evanston, their best output in a conference game this season.

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That’s A Wrap: Team offense

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Welcome to “That’s A Wrap,” our recap of the 2014-2015 Indiana Hoosiers. Today: Indiana’s offense.

Final stats (34 games): 77.4 ppg, 46.4 FG %, 54.4 eFG %, 40.6 3PFG%, 17.2 TO%, 32.7% FTR.

As the sun faded on Indiana’s disappointing 2013-2014 season, it was clear the offense held the Hoosiers back from dancing.

Outside of Yogi Ferrell, the team had little in the way of ballhandlers. And as the Hoosiers tried to push the pace, it often resulted in catastrophe. They finished near last in the nation in turnover percentage (330th), opponent steal percentage (328th) and opponent block percentage (331st). When the Hoosiers were able to actually hang onto the ball and finish out a possession on their terms, the results were average — offensive efficiency (106.5, 127th), effective field goal percentage (49.8, 159th), three-point field goal percentage (34.3, 172nd).

A lack of shooting around lottery talent big man Noah Vonleh meant poor spacing. It was a collection of players that just didn’t have the necessary parts to play at a high level.

But Tom Crean plugged the holes and re-tooled the roster in the offseason. He studied David Blatt’s Russian national teams and the Euro game —  a style with multiple ballhanders and shooters spacing the floor. The result? The nation’s ninth most efficient offense. Robert Johnson and James Blackmon Jr. gave the team more ballhandling, driving and shooting options off the perimeter. Troy Williams was almost an auto-turnover when he put the ball on the deck as a freshman, but improved handles and playmaking were apparent as early as the Canada trip. As such, the turnovers improved dramatically (17.2%, 60th) and suddenly Indiana had a starting lineup with guys you had to respect all over the floor.

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That’s A Wrap: The Other Guys

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Welcome to “That’s A Wrap,” our player-by-player recap of the 2014-2015 Indiana Hoosiers. Today: Indiana’s minor contributors, including Devin Davis, Tim Priller, Jeremiah April, Nate Ritchie, Jordan Fuchs and Ryan Burton.

Devin Davis: The 2014-2015 season for Davis started as one of potential and hope, as he proved to be a significant contributor and the Hoosiers’ leading rebounder during the team’s preseason tour of Canada. But days before the Hoosiers’ first exhibition game of the season, Davis was involved in a car accident that left him in serious condition with a traumatic brain injury. Not surprisingly, his long-term and short-term health took precedence over making a return to action this season. He is back in classes this semester and is participating in practices with his teammates, but he remains limited in contact drills — still with no guarantees on his long-term basketball playing future.

Tim Priller: It was clear that early on in his Indiana career, Priller was going to be a fan favorite. Maybe it was his hair, maybe it was his (slow) speed, but whenever the 6-foot-9 Texas native touched the ball this season, the Hoosiers faithful begged for Priller to shoot. That said, Priller did not play often and showed little of what he can contribute to Indiana, as his lack of athleticism and lack of offensive prowess kept him sidelined for much of the season.

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That’s A Wrap: Yogi Ferrell

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Welcome to “That’s A Wrap,” our player-by-player recap of the 2014-2015 Indiana Hoosiers. Today: Yogi Ferrell.

Ferrell (34 games): 16.3 points, 4.8 assists, 3.2 rebounds, 53.9 eFG%, 41.6 3PFG%, 86 FT% in 34.9 minutes per game.

After a 2013-2014 campaign where he was the focus of opposing defenses and had to single-handedly carry Indiana at times offensively, things changed for Yogi Ferrell as a junior in Bloomington.

And the changes were a positive for both Ferrell and the Hoosiers.

The departures of several ball stoppers on the 2013-2014 team coupled with the arrival of players like James Blackmon Jr., Nick Zeisloft, Robert Johnson and the emergence of Collin Hartman meant that Ferrell had more breathing room to operate. And the results were fun to watch.

Ferrell’s usage was down from his sophomore campaign, but his efficiency was up across the board. His offensive rating was top 40 in the country. His assist rate was up slightly while his turnover percentage fell by four. His effective field goal percentage climbed nearly two percent and his free throw percentage climbed nearly four percent. He also continued to lengthen an impressive streak of consecutive games with a 3-pointer made.  It now sits at 65, the longest active streak in the country and a school record.

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That’s A Wrap: Nick Zeisloft

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Welcome to “That’s A Wrap,” our player-by-player recap of the 2014-2015 Indiana Hoosiers. Today: Nick Zeisloft.

Zeisloft (34 games): 6.6 points, 2.2 rebounds, 67.4 eFG%, 45 3PFG% in 19.6 minutes per game.

When Indiana announced the addition of Illinois State transfer Nick Zeisloft back on July 7, the news was met with skepticism from many Hoosier fans.

Why would the coaching staff have interest in a player with two years of eligibility who just came off a season at Illinois State in which he made just under 36 percent of his 3-pointers? In the program’s release to announce Zeisloft’s addition, Tom Crean cited things like Zeisloft’s ability to help space the floor, physical and mental toughness and leadership and maturity on and off the floor.

It wouldn’t take long for Zeisloft to start proving critics of his addition wrong.

Less than a month after joining the program, he traveled on the foreign tour to Canada and made 11 of the 20 3-pointers he attempted. With Yogi Ferrell, James Blackmon Jr. and Robert Johnson alongside him in many of the lineups IU featured in Montreal and Ottawa, Zeisloft was able to find space and splash in open looks. This was exactly the role Crean envisioned when he watched film of Zeisloft last spring and summer when contemplating whether to bring him in.

As far as leadership goes, it was clear what Crean thought of Zeisloft when he took him to Chicago for Big Ten media day as one of IU’s two player representatives last October. And days later in the aftermath of the Devin Davis accident and player suspensions, it was Zeisloft who went face to face with the media and answered questions about the current state of Indiana basketball.

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That’s A Wrap: Hanner Mosquera-Perea

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Welcome to “That’s A Wrap,” our player-by-player recap of the 2014-2015 Indiana Hoosiers. Today: Hanner Mosquera-Perea.

Mosquera-Perea (26 games): 6.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, 8.7 OR%, 59.4 2PFG% in 19.4 minutes per game.

The spotlight was thrust onto Hanner Mosquera-Perea.

Heading into the 2014-2015 season, Mosquera-Perea, who had never started a game in his Indiana career, was slated to start from the five position. At 6-foot-9, he was the Hoosiers’ best option at the position — after playing off the bench in his first two seasons behind the likes of Cody Zeller and Noah Vonleh.

Ready or not, it was Mosquera-Perea’s time to make a contribution.

And throughout much of the 2014-2015 season, he did just that.

After developing his game through his first two years in Bloomington, Mosquera-Perea showed that the Hoosiers could not only play to him on offense, but through him, as well. He ran the court. He played through the paint. He got to the free throw line. And as his footwork improved significantly, as well, so too did his jump shot.

But in a season that he could have utilized a full 34 games of development, during a practice on Jan. 12, Mosquera-Perea dislocated his right knee. Right in the thick of Big Ten season, he was forced to be sidelined for seven games.

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